5 Little-Known Facts about Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter – the creator of the classic childhood characters of Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Tom Kitten, and others – has long been one of my favorite authors. I grew up reading her whimsical tales of rabbits, cats, hedgehogs, and other charming creatures. Now, in adulthood, I’ve researched the woman behind the stories I’ve loved so much, and learned that Beatrix was so much more than just a writer and painter (although that’s nothing to be ashamed of!)

Beatrix Potter and the real Benjamin Bunny

So in celebration of Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday (she was born July 28th, 1866), I’m sharing a few little facts that you may not have known about the famous children’s author:

Beatrix didn’t get married till she was 47. Miss Potter was pushing 50 before she became Mrs. Heelis – her first and only marriage. So if you’re over 35 and still single, don’t despair – there’s still time! Continue reading

What to Blog about when You’re out of Ideas

I’m sure this happens to every blogger sooner or later: your idea well dries up. It might be a long creativity dry spell, or maybe it’s just a temporary slump and you’re like “drat, I’m supposed to post tomorrow and I have nothing ready.”

Well, here are some handy tips to keep you going – or at least to help you fill in the gaps until your creativity springs gets going again. If you’re stuck for blog post ideas, you can:

Search the internet for “blog post ideas.” You’ll come across dozens of far more creative and influential bloggers than yours truly who have long lists of ideas, or fabulous tips for getting out of a slump. Continue reading

Beginning at the End

I may offend or confuse some of you pantsers out there, but I’m really becoming a firm believer in knowing the end of your story before you finish. Most any writer who outlines at all probably has at least a vague idea of how the story is going to end – otherwise, what’s the point of the outline?

If you’re a die-hard pantser (one who writes “by the seat of your pants” and never knows what the next scene of your story is going to be about), then keep doing what you’re doing if it’s working for you. And if you’re a hybrid plotter/pantser and it’s working for you, keep that up, too.

I’m not actually trying to change anyone’s mind or writing method in this post – or even give instructions, really. I’ve just made some observations recently about my own writing method, so I thought I’d share. Continue reading

The Value of Writing Fan Fiction

The subject of fan fiction can be a controversial one, so I may be making some people mad when I say that fan fiction is valuable and important.

First of all, to clarify for those who might not know, fan fiction is just what it sounds like: stories written by fans of a particular book/TV show/movie. Fanfic stories can range from plots that easily could have fit into the official story, to endings or explanations for unfinished storylines, to alternate universe adventures and wild what-if tales.

Fanfic is written for the fans, by the fans, and is generally not authorized by the original authors or creators of the book series/show/movie. There’s nothing illegal about fan fiction, unless you try to make money off of it or claim it as your own property. Then you get into plagiarism, theft of intellectual property, and related cans of worms.

This post is not about the legal or even moral implications of the fan fiction world, but rather its value as writing and art. All nerdiness and fangirling aside, writing fan fiction has several benefits: Continue reading

How to Write Technobabble

I’m not sure who originally came up with the term “technobabble,” but I first encountered it in reference to Star Trek. Technobabble is a staple of a lot of science fiction: the “babbling” on about fictional science and fictional technology to get characters into and out of their fictional scrapes.

So what makes for good technobabble? It needs to be believable and convincing within the fictional world you’ve created, so here are some ideas:

Use real science.

A standard sci-fi technique to fixing a problem. Picard knows what's up.

A standard sci-fi technique to fixing a problem. Picard knows what’s up.

One key element that makes science fiction different from fantasy is the science. Not that every sci-fi story has to be as full of real chemistry and mathematics as, say, The Martian. But science, and along with it, logic and a degree of realism, is part of what makes sci-fi different from magic-based fantasy stories.

Even if your story is set in the far future or in a different universe entirely, learn some basic scientific concepts that will feature in your story. If you’re writing a space adventure with lots of ships traveling around the galaxy, then familiarize yourself with the difference between a red giant star and a quasar. Even if the plot doesn’t hinge on that detail, you’ll likely have readers who do know the difference and might be upset that you have a colony of people living on a planet orbiting a quasar (hint – quasars aren’t stars, to begin with). Continue reading

How to Invent Fantasy Words

This post is similar to one that I wrote a while back for Mythic Scribes. But I wanted to write another post with some tips for inventing words and names for fantasy, and next week I’m planning to do a similar post about how to write technobabble for sci-fi.

So here are some of my tips for creating convincing words for your fantasy stories:

Use a real language as your base.

J.K. Rowling is famous for using Latin and Latin-esque-sounding words. How about the spells of “lumos” and “nox” to create light or make it dark? “Lumi” is Latin for “light,” so “lumos” isn’t much of a stretch; and “nox” means “night.”

Especially if your fantasy world is inspired by or reflective of a real culture, then go ahead and use the language for inspiration. In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien based the people of Rohan on ancient Viking culture. Many of the words used were either Old Norse words, or based on that language. Continue reading